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Educator Monthly

EF’S NEWSLETTER FOR TEACHERS

www.ef.com/teacher Issue 6

This month, EF Educator


Monthly is turning its
Learner Training: developing
attention to learner training;
techniques to develop
autonomy and self-awareness
students’ awareness of how
they learn. When learning The overall aim of learner training is to encourage  I’m going to write down at least two example
L2 in an L1 environment, students’ awareness of learning strategies so that they sentences for each new vocabulary word.
become more effective and autonomous language  I’m going to work on improving my pronunciation
students have no choice
learners. The following are a number of learner-training of /T/.
but to be proactive about
techniques that you can incorporate in your classroom
their studies as practice
to encourage your students to become more Make sure that goals set at the start of a term are
opportunities will rarely come independent learners. reassessed periodically through open discussion. If
their way. Becoming part of goals have been met, or were unrealistic, encourage
the syllabus, understanding  Learners’ goals students to rewrite them.
what works for them (and  Syllabus negotiation
what doesn’t), and thinking  Thinking about learning Syllabus negotiation
about language itself, are all  Thinking about language
ways in which students can  Correction and assessment At the start of the course, go through the syllabus
and/or the plan of the course book with the class.
maximise their potential.
Learners’ goals Explain which items are non-negotiable and why. Allow
The EF Educator Monthly
students to vote on which negotiable items they want to
is designed by and for Students learn more when their own personal objectives do. It is best to start off with limited syllabus-negotiation
teachers; if you have any and ways of working are taken into account. You can and expand it as the group becomes more cohesive.
suggestions for content support students by letting them choose personal goals Later on in the course, give students the opportunity to
or themes for future to work toward. Encourage them to reflect on those choose alternative tasks and ways of working that
newsletters, contact the goals, discuss them with the rest of the class, and address the same objectives on the syllabus. Students
editor chris.flint@ef.com. adapt them if necessary. play a part in the decision-making process and the
syllabus will better reflect their attitudes, beliefs and
interests.

Thinking about learning


Chris Flint
Editor Reflections
When doing any activity, get students to ask themselves
London, UK
these types of questions and share their responses:

 Before you begin, determine what your personal


In this issue: objectives are and how they can be reached by this
activity.
 Learner Training:  How did you remember and learn the vocabulary?
developing autonomy Was it useful to recognize the words in the text?
and self-awareness  Were you able to reach your objectives in this activity
Diary entries in the class or in another outside the class? If you
 Teacher Tidbits
One way of getting students to set and track their goals were, in what way? If not, why not? Did you achieve
is to ask them to record them in their diaries. other objectives that you hadn’t planned to?

Their goals should be specific, measurable, achievable Many course books have these types of activities
and realistic. For example: built-in.
 I’m going to record my new vocabulary in my
Study Guide.

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EF Educator Monthly – Issue 6

Learner Training: developing


autonomy and self-awareness (cont’d)
Portfolios Correction and assessment
Students collate their course work in a portfolio which Teacher Tidbits
allows both teacher and students to see what has been Self-correction
achieved and to reflect on the learning process. As part Encourage students to keep a record of their own
of a final assessment, ask students to select a certain errors and the corrected sentences in their diaries. Turning the tables
number of pieces to include in their final portfolio and
ask them to say why those pieces were selected for Peer-correction You can increase your students’
grading. After completing writing assignments, ask students in engagement with their learning
pairs to edit each other’s work and advise each other materials and/or course book by
Resources outside of class on corrections. getting them to design their own
Be sure that students are fully aware of all of the exercises. At first, they are
resources that are available to them outside of class, as testing themselves—asking what
well as inside, such as textbooks, authentic materials, would be appropriate to review
media, computers and the Internet. Provide them with a and how to phrase the
list of web sites where they can practice or do L2 questions—and then their class
research. When assigning activities allow students to colleagues. This practice is
choose the resources that they feel are most appropriate at any level and
appropriate for the tasks. often provides students with a
concrete reason for reproducing
Thinking about language examples of language items for
their notebooks.
Discovering patterns
Guide students to discover, record and compare Usually, it’s most helpful to get
patterns in the language. Eliciting grammar rules from students mimicking the exact
students can help to foster a sense of independence. exercise structure that appears
For example: in their learning materials/course
 Did you find any language patterns in your questions book—the focus is then on the
and answers? teaching aim rather than the skill
 If so, record what they were and compare them to of materials design. Examples
your earlier list(s) from this unit. Self-assessment might include simple cloze
 Why do you think those patterns are used here? After completing activities, or at the end of the term, get exercises for checking recent
students to answer questions on how they think they vocabulary, error correction for
Negotiating meaning performed in the activity or during the term. Compare grammar and key word
Allow students to understand new vocabulary through and discuss the student’s responses with your own transformations, for the more
negotiated or shared meaning. For example, when assessment. advanced students.
studying a topic such as, Heroes, Idols and Legends,
 Allow students to discuss the meaning of the words Peer-assessment
in small groups and agree upon a definition (without When doing an activity, such as giving presentations,
help from the teacher or a dictionary). allow students to work together to develop the set of
 Get them to share their opinions with the rest of criteria for a successful presentation. Then, as a student
the class. gives his or her presentation, the rest of the students
 Record their collaborative definitions on the board. mark him or her based on the criteria that they have
established.
This will help students to develop a belief in their own
ability to guess meaning and negotiate in the target Conclusion
language. It also frees the teacher and the dictionary Learner autonomy is grounded in co-operation and
from being the sole authority on the language. collaboration, formed through syllabus negotiation,
given room to grow in activity design, and guided by
Authentic activities and materials learner training. By incorporating as many of these Naturally, you will need to check
Devise open-ended activities around authentic materials techniques as possible into your classroom, you will the integrity of exercises before
that offer students the opportunity to bring their own increase students’ language use, start them on the road sharing them with the class, but
background, experiences, opinions, and interpersonal to greater self-awareness in language learning and help asking students to analysis the
skills to the activities. Using authentic materials will not them to become better, more effective communicators. learning process can be a
only expose learners to the real structure of the target lesson for you too and quite
language, but to the socio-cultural aspects of language Kristine Pack revealing of what your students
as well. Professional Development Coordinator have understood from your
EF ILS efforts.

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